To help make fashion more accessible to consumers, eCommerce innovators are allowing shoppers to rent their clothes and accessories through subscription box services. Take Parcel22, which offers access to trends and styles in exchange for a flat monthly fee. Consumers start using the service by creating an account and answering a series of questions around their preferences (i.e., sizing, preferred fit, items they wish to avoid having in the parcel). The company’s system, in turn, “automatically generates recommended clothing and accessories for that user,” Parcel22 Owner and CEO Natasha August told PYMNTS in an interview. However, she noted that “ultimately, that user can decide what gets shipped to them.”
Once consumers approve the selections, their parcels get packed and shipped to their doors. (If consumers don’t approve the parcel in two days, a box of recommended pieces will automatically be shipped to them.) Once they receive their packages, consumers can wear their items, which they can keep as long as they want. As soon as they return the items from their current assortment, they can select new pieces for their upcoming delivery. August said the offering is very much like a “rotating wardrobe.” The packages come with free shipping and also have a prepaid return shipping label as well. And August noted the company recommends that customers use the box that their parcel arrives in for the return as well, while the company tries to reuse it as many times as possible.
If the company receives a parcel back minus a particular style the company delivered to the customer, it automatically charges her for that item at a discounted price that August says is up to 80 percent off of retail. For payments, the company integrates with Stripe as its processor. Customers can make their payments with any form of credit or debit card, and the company is looking to integrate with digital payment methods as well. The company offers three subscription plans from “simple” to “sassy” and “smart,” which all offer unlimited parcels. The simple plan offers three garments and two accessories, while the sassy plan offers four garments. The smart plan includes five garments as well as three accessories.
The company’s market is mainly Generation Z and millennials — high school students through college and the early working years — and August says her offering is the most cost-effective clothing rental service on the market. (The age range of the company’s market is essentially from 15 to 30.) When it comes to the items on the site, August said the company selects every single article of clothing based on style to ensure it’s fun and fashionable. By comparison, August says a lot of her competitors have more conservative and staple pieces. While August notes that a majority of contemporaries are focused more on the designer and the brand, she said her company is mainly focused on “the style and look of the clothing itself.”
Beyond Parcel22, the sharing economy has transformed the way consumers get transported from point A to B, how they receive food delivery, how they rent vacation homes, and, increasingly, how they shop. Clothing rental used to involve renting a loaner tux for a prom or other formal event, but it has moved into the modern age with platforms like Rent the Runway to make apparel and accessories more affordable for limited-time usage. What started as a pay-as-you-go model has morphed into a subscription service and has now grown to encompass other categories such as home goods with Rent the Runway’s recent partnership with West Elm, which allows consumers to select from 26 bundles for the bedroom and/or the living room.
From Parcel22 to Rent the Runway, online innovators are aiming to make style and fashion more accessible to consumers in the digital age.